Nine Tips to Retain Your Top Customers
Your top customers are the most important asset in your business, and it’s important to hang onto them if at all possible. It’s much more cost-effective to retain repeat customers than it is to find new ones. Here are nine tips to help keep your top customers happy:
1. Know who they are by name.
Do you know which customers generated the highest sales last year? If not, run a “Sales by Customer Summary” report sorted by descending revenue to be sure. Your top customers will be listed on the first lines of this report. These are the customers to contact at least once a month, have lunch with periodically, or otherwise express your appreciation.
2. Know who sent the most business to you.
Do you track referrals? If not, consider adding a field to your accounting system or CRM software. Or use the sales by customer report generated above and add a column to it labeled “referral source”. Drop in the person’s name that referred the customer to you. Once you’ve completed the field, re-sort it to total up the dollar value of each referral source.
Try to be in contact with these folks regularly, just as if they were your top customers - even if they’re not a customer at all. Make a plan to eat lunch with these individuals and/or do something extra for them periodically to let them know you appreciate their referrals.
3. Ask customers how they would like to be contacted and how often.
Do your customers prefer to be contacted via email? Phone? Text? In person? If a customer hates being called on their cell phone, wouldn’t you want to know?
Everyone is different, so find out by asking, and make a note in their file. Also find out how often they’d like an update. Some worriers might want to know frequently, others prefer a short quarterly email. The best time to find out is during initial customer contact or at the time of the first sale.
4. Find out what customers need from you.
At the end of each project, ask your customer two things:
- How could we have served you better?
- What else can we do for you?
Then empty your mind and really listen. Take copious notes, don’t defend yourself, and thank your customer. Think about what they said, and implement what makes sense. Remember we are all in the business of customer satisfaction, and profitability will follow happy customers.
5. Provide a customer service contact and great support.
Does your customer know who to call when they need to talk with someone in your company? If the customer has a follow up question on their purchase or service, let them know what to do ahead of time so they won’t feel lost. This will make the customer feel at home and will have them coming back because of your great customer support.
6. Practice “consumption marketing.”
Consumption marketing is helping the customer fully consume their purchase from you. The more benefits your customer receives from your product or service, the more likely they are to come back for more.
Help clients use your products and services to their fullest by creating a consumption marketing program that includes tips sheets, educational aids, how-to videos, or instructional blog posts. Or, if you know a customer hasn’t used the product or service, contact them and figure out why. For example, say a Lucrum client cancels a session on short notice. We could wait for the client to contact us about a make-up day. Instead, we go a step further and proactively ASK to reschedule and give some dates. After all, successful engagements create happy clients who refer us to new client’s right?
7. Develop multiple relationships.
If your customers are large companies, strengthen that business by meeting multiple buyers within the company. If one employee leaves, it may not be such a crisis to your account if you know multiple people in the company.
8. Say thank you promptly.
Send a thank you note to a new customer or referral source within a week of their purchase or referral. Acknowledge their action quickly and generously so that you make a great personal impression.
9. Create and implement a client contact strategy.
Be proactive about customer retention by planning interactions throughout the year and systemizing the contact process with top customers. This can be as simple as taking your top 12 customers out to lunch, one each month, or as complex as planning some kind of touch point – a newsletter, email, or thank you note – once a month for each of your top clients and referral sources.
Try any of these nine tips to impress your top customers and boost customer retention for stronger sales.